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Cablegate: Ireland Supports Siniora Government Within Eu

VZCZCXRO0784
RR RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHDL #0064/01 0371410
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 061410Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY DUBLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8889
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 0030
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUBLIN 000064

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/06/2018
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PREL PHUM EFIN EINV EI
SUBJECT: IRELAND SUPPORTS SINIORA GOVERNMENT WITHIN EU
CORRIDORS

REF: A. STATE 10786

B. STATE 11025

Classified By: Pol/Econ Section Chief Ted Pierce;
Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).

1. (C) Summary: The Irish Government is under no illusions
about the "single-minded brutality" of the Syrian regime,
according to Michael Gaffey, a senior Foreign Affairs
official. He added that Ireland and the EU must ensure the
sovereignty and independence of the Government of Lebanon.
However, he noted that the isolation and inflexibility of the
Syrian regime made it unlikely that additional pressure would
have a positive effect. Describing Siniora as an
exceptionally strong individual, Gaffey noted that both the
Irish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were very impressed
with him. Gaffey promised to initiate a discussion within
the Irish Government regarding funding for the Tribunal;
which, he said, was likely to be forthcoming. While the
Irish Government will push hard within the corridors of the
EU to garner support for Lebanon, in the end it is likely to
accede to the consensus that emerges from the EU debate. End
summary.

2. (SBU) POLOFF delivered demarche (Ref A) on February 6,
2008 to Michael Gaffey, Director, Middle East and North
Africa Division, Department of Foreign Affairs. Beginning by
noting that the people of Ireland were genuinely sympathetic
to the Government of Lebanon (having been engaged in UNIFIL
for many years), Gaffey stated that it is in the interests of
Ireland and the EU to ensure the sovereignty and independence
of the Government of Lebanon. He portrayed Lebanon as a
victim of instability throughout the region, noting that any
problem in the Middle East seems to end up being fought out
in Lebanon. In Ireland's view, a comprehensive Middle East
settlement, which achieves peace between Israel and Syria, is
the best way to resolve the political problems in Lebanon,
Gaffey said.

3. (C) Calling on his own experience dealing with Syria --
including a visit there in early 2007 with Prime Minister
(Taoiseach) Bertie Ahern and Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern --
Gaffey stated the Irish Government is under no illusions
about the "single-minded brutality" of the Syrian regime,
which, he said, was unlikely to hold genuine elections or
become more accommodating. He described the regime as
isolated (even from other Arab states) and interfering in
Lebanon (e.g., orchestrating the assassination of Lebanese
leaders) in a manner it thinks best meets its own narrow
interests. (Note: Ireland's relations with Syria are
conducted from their embassy in Cairo. End note.)

4. (C) Gaffey stated that the EU must hang tough on Lebanon
and send a strong message to Syria that Lebanon will not
become a victim of any peace agreement in the Middle East;
for example, that Lebanese sovereignty will not be sacrificed
for an Israeli/Syrian peace agreement. The EU, he declared,
must be a guarantor of Lebanese sovereignty. He noted that
if Syria chose, it's actions in Lebanon could demonstrate its
interest in a comprehensive regional peace settlement.
However, he wondered whether additional pressure on Syria
would really make any impact as Syria is already immensely
isolated. In 2007, when his delegation also visited Egypt
and Saudi Arabia, Gaffey said that the leaders of those
nations seemed to be holding Syria at a long arm's length.

5. (C) Describing Siniora as an exceptionally strong
individual, Gaffey said that both the Prime Minister and the
Foreign Minister were very impressed with him during their
meetings in Lebanon last year. He revealed that Siniora had
immediately called the Prime Minister in early January to
express his concern when two Irish troops in Lebanon were
lightly wounded. Gaffey voiced the opinion that Siniora has
been doing an excellent job of cultivating European leaders.

6. (C) Gaffey stated that Syria seems to fear the Special
Tribunal on Lebanon. He indicated that he would initiate a
discussion within the Irish Government on financial support
for the Tribunal; a discussion, he said, that has not yet
occurred. He voiced his opinion that Ireland would agree to
pledge funding, noting that the establishment of the Tribunal
was in keeping with Ireland's position on Lebanon and its
strong support for human rights throughout the world.

7. (C) Comment: Irland's instincts are in the right place.
However, as Gaffey pointed out, Ireland is a small nation
and can influence EU and international policy onl so far.
While the Irish Government will push had within the
corridors of the EU to garner suppot for Lebanon, in the end
it is likely to accede to the consensus decision that emerges

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from the EU.

FOLEY

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